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ROGUE HOSTAGE Interview: Luna Lauren Velez On Her First Action Role And Dealing With Claustrophobia

Rogue Hostage follows single father and former Marine Kyle Snowden (Tyrese Gibson) as he races to save his daughter and other hostages from a dangerous criminal who has trapped them inside a neighborhood store owned by Kyle’s polarizing stepfather, Congressman Sam Nelson (John Malkovich).

The movie, from Vertical Entertainment, is now playing in select theaters and is also available On Demand. Jon Keeyes (The Harrowing) directs the action blockbuster from a script by Mickey Solis.

The impressive cast also includes Michael Jai White, Christopher Backus, Holly Taylor, and Luna Lauren Velez, and we were fortunate enough to catch up with the latter to discuss her role. Best known for starring in Dexter, the actress has a long list of impressive credits to her name, including How to Get Away with Murder, MacGyver, and the Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

In our conversation, Luna offered some fascinating insights into what led to her taking on the role of Sunshine in Rogue Hostage, how it felt to star in her first action movie, and why she had to deal with claustrophobia on set! It sounds like the Blue Bloods alum had a great time working on the project, and having watched the movie earlier this week, we'd definitely recommend checking it out!

I had a lot of fun watching the movie, but what was it about the project and the role of Sunshine, in particular, that drew you to Rogue Hostage?

The biggest thing that drew me was that this film is kind of that classic good versus evil tale of redemption, especially for Tyrese’s character, Kyle. I love those movies like Die Hard where there’s the guy trying to get back on the scene and do good and course-correct his life. It very broadly paints a picture of who our hero is and our villain, and I love that about these kinds of movies. I’ve never done an action film, so that was really fun. I’ve never played a role like Sunshine, so that was also really appealing and it felt like, ‘Wow, if we can pull this off and have a great time, wouldn’t that be something?’ And it was!

We quickly learn that Sunshine is openly gay and married to a woman and the way that’s just a natural part of this story was just fantastic. Was it important to you to bring that sort of diversity to this film?

It was. She’s unlike any character I’ve played. People typically associate me with, if it’s not María LaGuerta, some kind of authoritative role. Sunshine was just fun. She’s a psychotherapist who gave up her career to travel with her wife who is studying to be a veterinarian, and I loved that. She’s natural and thinks really quick on her feet and is smart. Sunshine also has a great sense of humour. Those were really nice things to be able to bring to life.

For a significant chunk of your scenes, you’re in the confines of that small room so can you talk about what it was like for you and Holly Taylor to work together in those claustrophobic surroundings?

[Laughs] You know, it was completely claustrophobic! I suffer from claustrophobia, so it was quite a challenge for me. I have to say, it played into what I brought to those scenes, so I was able to bring it and use it for the circumstances of the film. In that way, it was very helpful. Plus, because we were on location, it’s not like it’s just been built. Typically, a wall would be moved or taken out to make us more comfortable, but this was actually a room that was that small. We were in that room for the entire day! It’s already kind of funny that we’re in this office, and then Holly’s character is hilarious, and she’s wonderful; it was just a joy working with her. To go from something that starts out in such an amusing way to the circumstances being so dire where we’re trapped in there...well, then we were able to see what was going outside and navigate and help Kyle. It’s such a cool trajectory for all of that to happen in this small space. The room itself, and the circumstances, open and constrict. They took on a life of their own, and being in that room playing through all these scenes was actually a very cool experience. It’s not one I want to repeat, though [Laughs].

Without getting into spoilers, Sunshine gets to see a little action as well, but as an actor, how much do you enjoy getting to tackle that side of things?

It sure was! It was so much fun and I hope to do more because I just love that pace and I love that genre. Anything that has that high stakes intensity is always really cool. It’s great to watch and I really enjoy it, so I’m looking forward to doing more of it, actually.

Sunshine and Mikki’s dynamic is such a fun part of proceedings, but what excited you most about exploring that here?

I have to say, it was my favourite part of the film. Holly is just one of the funniest people I have ever met. Her face is just comic genius in terms of what she’s able to do with her expressions. We laughed so much, and it was genuinely my favourite part of making the film. It was so unexpected as we had no idea we would hit it off so well, and I think the chemistry between these two characters was very funny. I really enjoyed it and was really surprised.

Many of your co-stars aren’t strangers to action movies, like Tyrese Gibson, so was it helpful to have them to bounce off or did you find yourself getting a good grip on the action quite quickly?

Both actually! It really helped having Tyrese there and he was great. He’s so great at what he does, as was everyone, and they were very generous. Safety was everything, so I feel like we were in such great hands. Of course, the director Jon Keeyes made sure everybody was comfortable and knew what was happening at all times, so when you have that around you doing this sort of thing, it always helps. It’s just great.

Rogue Hostage definitely feels like it has some franchise potential, so if that opportunity were to present itself to return as Sunshine, would that - and getting to see a little more action - interest you?

If she’s going to see more action, that would be key. I think that’s the way to go. Who knows what sort of trouble and Sunshine and Mikki could get up to? [Laughs] That would be a movie I’d really want to be in and see!

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